Data privacy violation: Sasthrapadham project sparks controversy

schol students
As per the draft school manual, students can be enrolled at schools without TC.

Thiruvananthapuram: The move to collect individual data related to the Sasthrapadham project in schools through Google forms has stirred up a controversy. The exercise, which in effect results in data being accessible to outside parties via private servers, comes even as the General Education department boasts of a secure online platform to facilitate the recording of personal information related to schools, teachers, and students. Also, the data collection in this method was indulged in without issuing an official circular.

Sasthrapadham, the programme rolled out by the Samagra Shiksha, Kerala, with the objective of igniting students’ interests in Science subjects, was implemented in schools in the previous years too. However, this time around, the event is conducted as the Young Innovators Programme (YIP) by joining hands with the K-DISC (Kerala Development and Innovation Strategy Council).

It is intended for students of Classes 8, 9, and 11 who have an affinity towards science. The winners will be handed over cash awards, in addition to funds to carry out the project and the required guidelines.

However, what has resulted in the controversy is the method employed for data collection. The students interested in competing are directed to first register themselves via the YIP website.

As part of the initial phase, the registration of schools has been completed. A committee of teachers is being formed at schools for the successful conduct of the programme, and the details of four facilitators and two invigilators who are members of the committee, besides that of the headmasters, are being collected using Google forms. This includes their phone numbers and e-mail addresses. The direction given to them is that they should enroll a maximum number of students for the programme.

Similar controversy earlier too
Earlier, the collection of individual data of all higher secondary teachers, as part of the Teachers Training Programme, using Google forms stirred up a controversy. Other details concerning the schools too are being collected using the Google form.

Such practices violate the government policy, prohibiting the collection of individual data of teachers and students on private servers. The main allegation is that the same will pave the way for data leaks and the sale of personal information.

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